Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) Director: Leonard Nimoy
“It’s a miracle these people ever got out of the twentieth century”
A fourth Star Trek movie was almost entirely scrapped thanks to William Shatner declining to reprise his role as Captain Kirk. However, his qualms were eventually settled with a pay raise that was explicitly not to be subordinate to Leonard Nimoy’s compensation. These types of petty squabbles were in part the inspiration behind launching a new Star Trek television series which aired the following year: Star Trek The Next Generation. The fourth Star Trek movie concludes a narrative trilogy that began with Wrath of Khan, and it was the second Trek film to be directed by Leonard Nimoy (naturally, Shatner expressed interest in directing the next Star Trek movie). There are quite a few quotable lines in this film and it uniquely relies on comedic situational humor more than other installments, and the “save the whales” message is a bit odd for a Star Trek movie.
Despite having a somewhat goofy premise, Star Trek IV is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable entry into the Star Trek canon. The Voyage Home picks up where Star Trek III left off and the crew of the Enterprise, currently on Vulcan, are set to be court-martialed on Earth. Meanwhile, a large cylindrical ship has been traveling through space while sending out an odd message, destabilizing ships it passes. When it arrives at Earth it causes pure chaos as electrical storms threaten planetary survival. The signal the ship emits is apparently a humpback whale song –humpback whales have long since been extinct– so the former crew of the Enterprise takes a Vulcan ship and travels back in time to the twentieth century (along with the newly resurrected Spock from the Genesis device in the previous film).
They travel back to 20th century San Francisco in a series of funny gags that highlight how foreign our world is to future generations. The crew proceed in disguise, ride on the bus, and interact with ordinary people on the streets before winding up at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they locate two whales to rescue and carry with them forward in time to the 23rd century. After a few twists and turns they make it back home and the whales respond to the alien ship’s probe which promptly departs. Kirk and crew return to the U.S.S. Enterprise: “My friends, we’re home” –thus ending the plot arc that initially began with Wrath of Khan.